Whenever you pay a visit to WorldNetDaily, it becomes painfully obvious why many people–including several of my longtime compatriots at Daily Kos–call it “WorldNutDaily.” Joseph Farrah’s enterprise makes no apologies about being hard-right. But many of its stories veer from hard right to hard conspiracy. Birtherism, “he’s a Mooslim,” the lot. But even by WND’s admittedly low standards, a story served up on Sunday night is sheer lunacy. Apparently WND saw fit to ring out 2018 with hysteria about vaccines supposedly making kids autistic.
WND saw fit to hype a 2016 video featuring Brenda and David McDowell, a Michigan couple who claimed their triplets all showed signs of autism within mere hours of being vaccinated in 2007, when they were all nine months old. Watch here, if you can stand it.
To hear the McDowells tell it, their three children–Claire, Richie and Robbie–all “shut off” within just five hours of being vaccinated for pneumococcal pneumonia. According to WND, the video was shot for the “Vaxxed” channel based on Brighteon.
The video gained new life this past month, after Congressman-elect Mark Green, who was elected to the Nashville exurban seat being vacated by Senator-elect Marsha Blackburn, told an audience at a town hall that he didn’t buy the Centers for Disease Control’s data on vaccines and autism. Watch a clip here.
Green, who is himself a practicing doctor, said that he intended to “stand on the CDC’s desk” and get the truth about vaccines. Never mind that he vaccinated his own kids.
What WND doesn’t tell you is that the man driving “Vaxxed” is Andrew Wakefield, the British doctor who gained infamy for his 1998 study showing a link between the MMR vaccine and autism. However, subsequent investigation by journalist Brian Deer revealed that this “study” was shot through with fraudulent and unethical conduct.
It turned out that lawyers had paid Wakefield to turn his study into a scientific hit piece against vaccines. As part of that effort, Wakefield manipulated data to make it appear there was a link between vaccines and autism. He also conducted unnecessary and invasive procedures on children. Ultimately, the study was fully retracted in 2010, and Wakefield was banned from ever practicing medicine in the UK again. “Vaxxed,” as it turns out, promotes his 2016 documentary of the same name, which was rightly condemned as pseudoscientific garbage of the worst type.
But that didn’t stop WND from throwing gasoline on this conspiracy inferno. It spoke with Jane Orient, president of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, who claimed that the medical industry isn’t willing to do more research into a potential link between vaccines and autism. But what WND doesn’t tell you is that AAPS has trafficked in pseudoscience for some time.
For instance, in 2003, its journal published an article claiming a link between vaccines and heart disease. It was so ridiculous that the World Health Organization published a public rebuke. But that’s not the only lunacy peddled by AAPS. It has also claimed not once, but twice that there is a link between abortion and breast cancer, and that there is a link between leprosy and influxes of undocumented immigrants. Simply put, if a mainstream publication quoted anyone from an outfit peddling this drivel, it would be gross malpractice at best.
WND’s longtime motto has been “A free press for a free people.” But if giving succor to this kind of drivel is its idea of a free press, we should all pass. WND has already left no doubt that it has no standards. But by peddling this, it has shown that it has no qualms about peddling things that aren’t just wrong, but dangerous.
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